Court refuses to halt establishment of task force to audit health sector

The High Court has declined to stop the establishment of the 20-member presidential task force to audit the human resources in the health sector.

Justice Jairus Ngaah declined to issue the stay as sought by the Law Society of Kenya and five others, instead certified the matter as urgent and directed parties to appear before him on July 22 for a hearing of their case

Through advocate Dudley Ochiel, the petitioners argued that the task force duplicates and usurps the mandate of the Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council.

In their papers, they have sued Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha for allegedly failing to operationalise the Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council under section 30 of the Health Act 2017. Also sued is the Attorney General.

According to the court papers, the task force is timebound and must conclude in six months. "Unless leave sought operates as a stay, the task force could convene, commence, and report while this case is pending," said Ochiel.

The petitioners told the court that despite the application, the risk of illegality and wastage of public funds looms large.

The petitioners contest the constitutionality of Gazette Notice 8437 of 2024 forming a task force.

They have cited Article 201 of the constitution, saying that public money must be used prudently and responsibly.

President William Ruto appointed Khama Rogo the chairperson and Judith Guserwa the vice chairperson of the task force.

Members are Patrick Amoth, John Masasabi, Toseef Din, Wilson Aruasa, Doreen Rhoda Kanyua, Dennis Miskellah and Francis Wafula. They have been appointed to serve for six months with effect from July 5, 2024.

The secretariat of the taskforce shall be domiciled at the Ministry of Health.

Dr Ruto said the team shall identify the legal, policy, administrative and operational constraints impeding the performance of the health sector.